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Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

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The Indian Lotus Flower

The Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is a beautiful aquatic plant with pea green leaves that float on the top of the water surface. The pink flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water.
The Indian Lotus flower is held sacred and is used by the Buddhists during religious ceremonies. The whole plant is fit for human consumption; although mainly the seeds and the roots (rhizomes) are usually used in traditional cuisine throughout Southeast Asia. The Indian Lotus is a paludal plant that can be grown in the same way as growing the fragrant water lily. It is not difficult to grow this plant in our conditions; one must only know how!

To grow the Indian Lotus from seed, the outer hard seed coating must first be slightly filed down (rubbing or sanding) with sand paper. This allows for easy water penetration without which the seed cannot begin to germinate. If the hard coating stays intact, the seed will remain viable for centuries. However, when placed in water, it may take a few years for the seed to sprout.

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Sprouting Indian Lotus seeds

How do you know when you have filed a sufficient amount of the hard seed coating off? One can tell by the growing size of the seed once placed in water. If the seed doubles in size within 24 hours, no more filing is needed. If not, you need to file more of the seed coating off, place the seed back in the water for the next 24 hours, and then check its size. This process must be repeated until the seed has doubled in size.

The seed only needs water… Once the filing process is successfully completed, soak the seed in a container filled with water. The ideal water temperature in the beginning of the sprouting process is between 27°C and 28°C (even though the seed can double its size in a temperature of only 20°C). At this temperature the seed germinates quickly and within a week sprouts will appear. See photo documentation at http://www.victoria-adventure.org/…om_seed.html.

As soon as the first leave emerges, plant the sprouted seed in either a muddy substrate or in aquarium gravel at the bottom of a container (aquarium, pond). The water level in the container should be kept at least 30 cm above the top of the substrate level. If the medium used is aquarium gravel, the Indian Lotus can easily grow in an aquarium filled with fish.

Gradually, as the plant matures, it will need more space. You can grow it in a pond in a winter garden, glasshouse, or any other place away from freezing temperatures. The ideal temperature for growing the Indian Lotus is between 20°C and 35°C.

In our weather conditions, lower temperatures are more common but the plant will survive without any problems. In the summer you can transfer the Indian Lotus to an outdoor pond but in the winter it must be kept inside. In the worst case scenario, it can also hibernate in a moist cellar in the same way as the fragrant water lily does.

The ideal way to grow the Indian Lotus is to use concrete tubs holding anything from 60 or 80 liters of water – these cost around 10 Euros each. Use the following method: Place the sprouted seed/s in a muddy substrate or in aquarium gravel inside a flower pot and then put the flower pot inside a concrete tub. For best growing results, fill the concrete tub with water to the top.

The advantage of using a concrete tub is that it can easily be placed in your winter garden or your apartment. In the latter case, it is recommended that the tub be placed near the window (preferably a balcony window) to ensure that the Indian Lotus plant is exposed to lots of sunlight and heat. In the summer, you can place the tub on the Southern side of your balcony or in the garden. As you can see, the Indian lotus plant can easily be grown – even in an apartment building!

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Friday 16th January 2009 14:02 | print | Water and aquatic plants, How to grow

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